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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2005 Jun;30(6):1187-92.

Ghrelin stimulates appetite, imagination of food, GH, ACTH, and cortisol, but does not affect leptin in normal controls.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Munich, Germany.


Ghrelin, a growth hormone (GH) secretagogue receptor ligand was isolated from the stomach and hypothalamus of rats and humans. In rodents, ghrelin exerts distinct orexigenic action, probably as counterpart of the anorexigenic leptin. In humans, ghrelin infusion enhances appetite. It is unknown whether single intravenous (i.v.) injections of ghrelin affect human eating behavior. Therefore, we investigated the influence of a single i.v. bolus injection of 100 microg ghrelin on appetite, ideas about food, hormone levels, and glucose concentration in young control subjects. In order to test gender differences, we included five women and four men. After ghrelin administration, appetite was enhanced in eight of nine subjects. Seven probands reported a vivid, plastic image of their preferred meal. Furthermore, ghrelin stimulated an immediate increase in plasma levels of GH (area under the curve, mean+/-SEM 35+/-16 ng/ml x min after placebo [P] to 2808+/-533 ng/ml x min after ghrelin [G]; p<0.001), cortisol (5908+/-984 ng/ml x min [P] to 10179+/-1293 ng/ml x min [G]; p<0.001), and ACTH (922+/-103 pg/ml x min [P] to 3030+/-763 pg/ml x min [G]; p<0.02), whereas leptin levels remained unchanged. Contrary to placebo, glucose concentration did not decrease markedly after administration of ghrelin. Our data suggest that i.v. ghrelin stimulates appetite and images of food in young women and men. Obviously, leptin is not involved in these effects.

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